Have you heard the news that the Washington Nationals phenom Dominican teenage shortstop isn’t who or as young as he says he is? Seems like Esmailyn “Smiley” González, aged nineteen, isn’t who the Nationals thought they were signing. He’s really Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, aged 23. Apart from the fact that this sheds a bad light on my team, it’s also a good reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make an official visit to Cuba to open trade.
If you’re not a baseball fan, you are probably scratching your head saying, “What does some scandal in baseball have to do with opening trade with Cuba?” Easy.
The Dominican Republic is a country of 9.2 million people, 159 of whom play professional baseball in the United States. Cuba is a country of 11.4 million people, 15 of whom play professional baseball in the United States. The Dominican Republic, like much of Latin America, has an unregulated network of middlemen, street agents, who produce fake IDs and participate in money-skimming and kickbacks. Cuba still has relics of the communist regime (other than Castro), namely programs aimed at producing world-class athletes formerly funded by the Soviet Union.
Many in the baseball world have been hoping for Fidel Castro’s quick departure from this world. They believe that his brother Raul will be more open to talk with the United States.
If the world-wide economic downturn continues to upset oil production and prices, Venezuela and Russia might no longer have such a strong grip on the affections of their compatriots. Even though China is eyeing the waters off Cuba as ideal sites for drilling, the paradigm of the global economy might prompt President Raul Castro to meetings with his neighbor to the north.
If that happens, MLB will have a new crop of athletes 90 miles away. Having Cuba as a player in the world of American baseball will force a change in the dynamics that drive the Dominican baseball problem-children whose actions create many high-profile scandals in the United States.
And then we can get back to that all-American game of baseball. Now where’re my peanuts and Cracker Jacks?
[Editor's note: The author still holds Becca as a friend and appreciates her candor.]
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